How Pastors can help their missionaries on Deputation is help from a veteran missionary of over 30+ years on his opinions and suggestions. Some missionaries have done a jam up job on raising support, and most of what I say is not applicable to them, because they have enough money coming in each month as well as funds accumulated in their bank accounts to live several years without any noticeable financial problems. While some are “well off”, a vast majority of missionaries are on the edge of financial chaos and ruin. It is a miracle how they hold their lives together.
Note: The references to “missionary” or “missionaries” in this article are specifically referring to missionaries home on furlough, doing deputation work, or just resting.
How Pastors can help their missionaries on Deputation
Money, Finances, and Expenses
Most missionaries need help with their finances while on furlough. Money and prayers are what greases the wheels of missions. But just giving your missionary money is not sufficient. It helps tremendously, but there are a lot of other things that need to be taken into consideration. Let’s be honest here. Money many times isn’t the remedy that we would think it is. By that, I mean, tangible things are also very helpful and serve the purposes that supporting churches want to communicate to their missionaries.
It is unfortunate, but supporting churches need to give to their missionary in kind as well as in cash.
There are big-ticket items here as well as smaller things. As to the big-ticket items, missionaries need a place to stay and some way to move around while in the US. Note that churches do not have to give their missionaries a car or house, they can just loan these things to them.
In almost all cases, missionaries cannot give any kind of rent history as many places require. Missionaries have a problem establishing requirements like that. In certain situations, missionaries with kids stick the kids in one bedroom, while the laws prohibit that.
A few “rules” considerations first. Missionaries, in fact, everybody today has too much junk. This “junk” is sometimes very useful, but in reality, it is costly when you have to pay to ship a $1 Dollar Tree piece of plastic to the other side of the world. Maybe whatever it is “doesn’t exist” i.e. is not available, or is not available at affordable prices where the missionary labors. But none-the-less, supporting churches should be aware of the problem, and #1 offer things to a missionary with a return guarantee, i.e. if you want to take it with you, great. If you want to use it and then return it to the giver when you go back to the field, that is perfectly fine too, and without any hard feelings. Print a label and put it clearly on the item (if appropriate) as to “this item belongs to ABC church and is on loan to a missionary, and when it is time, the missionary can return this to ABC church at phone, address, email.”
In the loan area of the loaning helps, please note, this is a service to the missionary because he does not necessarily want to offend the giving of gifts. The things that are most helpful are a place to stay, a vehicle even though old, desktop and laptop computers, old phones. Most people today have phones and laptops. But in some cases, like children taking online classes, a desktop computer is great. Phones that have phone plans are also very helpful to missionaries.
In some cases, missionaries will come in without a phone that can be used in the US or it is very expensive. Their plan from their country of service doesn’t extend into the US very well or not at all.
Along with these ideas, I would submit that a church would really bless a missionary on furlough with a small apartment or place where they can live. This is essential to make a base. Missionaries get sets of meetings, and then “lie low for a while”. When “lying low”, by that I mean that they don’t have meetings lined up, and they are trying to conserve their economic reserves until they can get more meetings. During these times, churches that can just give them an evening meeting, preaching to the old folks’ monthly reunion, the women’s group, the teens, etc. with a small love offering involved, is of great help to them. Maybe even a few Sundays of Adult Sunday School.
Churches should think about pots and pans, plates, glasses, coffee mugs, etc. As well as maybe a pounding (all the ladies in the church buy a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, a pound of coffee, etc, and bring it to a ladies’ night with the missionary). Blankets, sheets, towels, etc. are also needed. A person can spend a pretty penny buying blankets and sheets for three or four beds today. Again, these things can be provided as loaners from the church for the missionary, with the explicit idea that they are to be returned when the missionary returns to the field or doesn’t need them anymore. In some cases, the lady missionary will buy these things herself over their furlough to take back as funds become available, and she can return the loaners.
But these kinds of things are the struggles that a missionary on furlough has to go through today.
How Pastors can help their missionaries on Deputation continued
One of the most important things supporting church pastors can do is communicating with their missionaries before acting or moving things. If there exists a good back and forth as far as needs and what the church can provide, that will help both the church serve the missionary on deputation as well as the missionary minister to the church.
More Missionary Needs
To be blunt, what a missionary on deputation needs are meetings. While a pastor can open his own church to the missionary, and that is great by the way, the missionary needs probably some 20+ meetings for a year-long furlough. More would be better.
What pastors can do is to get meetings with their pastor friends for the missionary. He shouldn’t automatically make meetings for the missionary, but have a list ready and those on the list tuned in to help. This is done because a small group of pastors “trade their missionaries”. In other words, even though a church doesn’t support that missionary, both churches will have in the other church’s missionaries as a fellowship thing. Just getting meetings, is very important and necessary for the missionary’s budget. These small love offerings are what keeps a missionary afloat on furlough.
A loaned Vehicle
To be truthful, most missionaries have no desire to buy a vehicle for a year or two and then sell it. The process of selling it is long if you want to get out what you put into it or very short if you accept losing money on the deal. Neither is good. A loaned vehicle is much better. Even using a loaned vehicle and then paying to repair it, that is better than buying a used car at $8000, and only getting $3000 out of it after a year’s use.
Other gifts like AAA service, a gas credit card with credit preloaded, auto insurance, help with mechanical repairs, etc. are all extremely thoughtful and well received by the missionary.
How Pastors can help their missionaries on Deputation
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